10 Tips for Starting a Car Detailing Business

10 Tips for Starting a Car Detailing Business

Auto detailing can be a great way to earn a living and run a successful business. It doesn’t require tons of training or up-front investment. But it can help to get an expert perspective so you’ll have a roadmap for getting started.

Nick Vacco is the founder and CEO of Detail King, an auto detailing training institute where students can learn all about detailing processes as well as the business side of the industry. Vacco recently shared some insights for starting a car detailing business in a phone interview with Small Business Trends. Here are 10 of the essential steps you need to get started.

Tips for Starting a Car Detailing Business

Get the Proper Training

Detailing isn’t an industry that requires you to have a four-year degree or any specific certification in order to get started. But you do need to know all of the proper methods and the business side of the industry in order to be successful. And there are training institutes like Detail King that can help you do just that.

Vacco says, “It’s like anything else. If you want to be a plumber, the you go to plumbing school. If you want to be a dentist, you go to dental school. If you’re working on somebody’s vehicle, especially with today’s new cars costing around $40,000, you have to know how to perform the various detailing and protective services.”

Get Hands-On Experience

You also need to practice your craft in order to master it. In Detail King’s courses, students learn various methods of cleaning and detailing and then practice them for days. It can also be beneficial to learn while working for other detailing shops in order to really get the hang of it.

Start Where You’re Comfortable

When you’re ready to start your own operation, you can do it in a way that works with your lifestyle and the level of investment you’re willing to make.

Vacco says, “One of the nice things about this business is that you can start out part time. A lot of our students start part time and they have other jobs that are not necessarily in the industry. You can start out as a mobile operator where overhead is usually pretty low. Then after a few years after you’ve built up a customer base that is still in the area, you might go to open up your own shop while having someone else run your mobile unit.”

Get Your Business Licensed

One of the first things that Vacco teaches students is about the business side of detailing — in particular, the importance of getting licensed to operate a business in your area and incorporating your business. He says there are different considerations for each entrepreneur. But especially for those who have personal assets, he suggests forming an LLC or some kind of corporation to protect yourself.

Invest in the Essentials

Another important early step is investing in the essential pieces of equipment. Vacco says if you already have a truck or van and plan on starting as a mobile business, you can invest anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for equipment such as a pressure washer, hot water extractor, buffer, towels, buckets, sponges, and other various necessities. Of course, it is possible to spend more if you want to start out as a larger operation, but generally it’s not an especially expensive industry to break into.

Hone Your Selling Skills

Selling is one of the most important aspects of running any sort of business. But especially in a detailing business, Vacco says that upselling and cross selling are essential skills for every entrepreneur. Once you are already committed to providing one service for a customer, you might be able to entice them into purchasing extras in order to increase your profit margins even more.

Create a Marketing Plan

Of course, you also need to actually market your services to get them in front of new customers in the first place. Vacco says you should consider every vehicle on the road as a potential customer. He also says that a good website, social media presence, regularly updated content, and online ads are also helpful when it comes to bringing in new prospects.

Stay in Touch with Customers

Once you obtain those customers, your marketing work is far from over. Vacco also stresses the importance of keeping up with an email list of both customers and prospects. You can segment your list so that you can speak directly to those who haven’t purchased yet in some emails, while addressing your current and past customers specifically in other emails.

Grow When You’re Ready

As your business grows, you might find it beneficial to make some further investments. As Vacco mentioned, you can open up an actual location so that some customers can come to you. You can also hire team members to expand your operations even further. However, he did say that it’s beneficial for most detailing shops to keep some form of mobile operation going, as some commercial accounts will require that you come to them for all detailing work.

Re-train When New Methods Emerge

And those aren’t the only ways you can grow your business. From time to time, new methods will also come up that might require you to re-train so that you can add new services to your menu.

Vacco explains, “Right now, ceramic coating is becoming really popular. So you can make major profits in that area as long as you know how to actually perform the work.”

Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

27 Reactions
  1. This is actually very profitable if you know how to reach the market. Plus, it can be a great place to express your creativity.

  2. I found extremely useful all the hints and lessons on YouTube. Unfortunately I leave in Boston and I wouldn’t be able to attend a class near you. However you gave me so much hope and strength that I’m thinking to start my own business. I’ve been doing for over 8 years, but I always want to be my own boss. Words could never describe how grateful I am for all your help. Thanks and I wish the very best.

  3. I am deaf love mb it wash cars my self everyday and I want need own business detailling cars how help to me please ok

  4. I have been a Mobile Detailer for years. I started with flyers in paper boxes. I built.up regular clientele on regular schedules and now I have regular customers. New customers mainly come from word of mouth and some from online reviews. I no longer do any advertising. As far as having a location, my theory is that people don’t want their cars detailed when the weather is bad and that’s the only advantage I’m having a location. On site detailing is where it’s at. Customers love the convenience. the only problem with this business is it a number of years of doing this your body starts to break down so you might consider training someone as you get older so that they can work for you when you no longer can.

  5. Great advice on starting a detailing business. I own a mobile detailing in knoxville tennessee, and the advice about marketing is spot on.

  6. Great write up! Thanks! I find that staying in touch with customers is one of the most beneficial ways to stay busy all year.

  7. Thanks for the article Annie! I just launched my mobile detailing company earlier this year so this was a helpful read. I totally agree that it’s important to grow when ready. If you try to do too much too early you put your business at risk. Start slow, work hard, and be patient for the results!

  8. Very informative blog
    The information provided in the blog is very informative and useful for everyone. Car Detailing is now become a need for every car owner to protect the car from environmental changes.

  9. A great blog that you have shared here on starting a car detailing business. We had started our car wrapping and detailing garage in Dubai since Jan 2019 and we have a lot of big clients. We are making a good amount of money by that business.

  10. Thanks for sharing the topic and it’s very helpful to me

  11. very interesting blog post, good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.

  12. Great Article!! We would just add that starting or running a business isn’t going to be easy. You will be challenged. You will get frustrated. But don’t give up. Keep the “ball moving forward” even if it’s just an inch at a time.

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  14. Hello
    Your article is so helpful. It help me to repair car damage. Hope it help people a lot.
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  15. This blog is very informative.

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  17. This article was very valuable to me. . I just started my own detailing business and I am appreciative for the information that you put in this article. It was very helpful for me and I’m excited to continue in this new industry and journey as I strive to be successful.

  18. Some people might see car detailing as a luxury, but it really isn’t. Cars, after all, are exposed to all kinds of natural elements, and detailing is pretty much the only way to keep a car thoroughly clean and its paint and interior protected in the long term.

  19. Thanks for sharing a such great post.

  20. Great Post.
    Thanks for Sharing

  21. Great post! I am just starting out in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to do it well – resources like this article are incredibly helpful. As our company is based in the US, it?s all a bit new to us. The example above is something that I worry about as well, how to show your own genuine enthusiasm and share the fact that your product is useful in that case.

  22. Thank you for providing these effective and valuable tips. It is clear that the insights in your post will be a great help to new car detailing business owners like myself.

  23. The post is written in a very good manner and it entails much useful information for me. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Thanks for this awesome post.

  24. Thanks admin for sharing this useful information

  25. This blog is so awesome and very informative it really helps a lot.

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